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LDS Church critical of media reports on FLDS

Some news outlets fail to distinguish 2 faiths

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is criticizing international news media outlets for failing to distinguish between the mainstream LDS Church and the Fundamentalist LDS Church.

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discontinued polygamy officially in 1890. More than a century later, some news reports, especially those outside the U.S., still fail to draw clear distinctions whenever stories arise about polygamy in the Intermountain West," the LDS Church said in a statement posted on its Web site.

The LDS Church praised many news media outlets across the country for noting the difference between the two churches. However, church officials were critical of foreign media reports that ran photographs of the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City next to stories of the polygamous compound raid in Texas and headlines that use the term "Mormon" without a distinction.

"You would think that after over 100 years, media organizations would understand the difference," Elder M. Russell Ballard said in the LDS Church's statement on Friday. "You can't blame the public for being confused when some of those reporting on these stories keep getting them wrong."

The LDS Church was particularly critical of the French news agency Agence France-Presse for the photograph mistake, and Russian and Mexican media outlets that incorrectly referred to the FLDS Church as being the LDS Church.

The FLDS Church is legally incorporated as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and has been since the 1940s. It is one of many polygamous sects that broke away from the mainstream LDS Church decades ago over the practice of polygamy, but still incorporates Mormon doctrine in its beliefs.

LDS Church leaders have said there is no such thing as a 'fundamentalist Mormon,' but there are an estimated 40,000 in Utah and surrounding states who consider themselves as such. Like the mainstream LDS Church, fundamentalists trace their beliefs to Joseph Smith, who founded the Mormon faith in 1830.

E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com